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Simcoe-Grey candidates weigh-in on reconciliation with First Nations

CollingwoodToday asked local candidates how they are committed to supporting Indigenous communities with clean drinking water and actions proposed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; here are their responses
Simcoe-Greycandidates
Simcoe-Grey candidates for the federal election include: Top L-R Bren Munro (Liberal), Nick Clayton (Green), Terry Dowdall (Conservative), Lucas Gillies (NDP), bottom row l-r Adam Minatel (PPC) and Ken Stouffer (Christian Heritage Party).

CollingwoodToday.ca asked each of the federal candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidate’s platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.

Visit collingwoodtoday.ca/canadavotes2021 for more coverage of the federal election. Voting day is Sept. 20 and advance voting starts Sept. 10.

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Q: We are a rich country in many ways, but many of our First Nations reserves still don’t have clean drinking water. The tragedy of residential schools has ripped open the hurt and trauma many of our Indigenous families have felt for generations. Many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations remain unheeded. How would you address these issues and help heal these wounds?

Ken Stouffer, CHP: It grieves me to see our virtue signalling prime minister donating billions of dollars of our money to countries and causes all over the world when many of our First Nations reserves don’t have clean drinking water. 

We should address needs like this in Canada before we start giving money away to causes outside Canada. 

At this point, I’m not familiar with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would be good to review those recommendations and take action where it makes sense to do so.  

Nick Clayton, Green: The first step towards reconciliation is acknowledgement. This is why land acknowledgements are important, but they are just the beginning. 

The next step is understanding. First Nations are diverse and culturally rich, and we need to do the work to get to know the culture through Indigenous delivered curriculum in schools, and funding and support of Indigenous creative media. 

First Nations are the original form of government on this land. Self-determination is not something that Indigenous populations need our permission to do, we just need to stop undermining it. As a first sign of respect, we must acknowledge the colonial racist roots of the RCMP, and cease using them as an oppressive force in our nation-to-nation relations.

First Nations have always desired a side-by-side, mutually beneficial relationship with European colonizers, and we have been the abusers in that relationship through attempted cultural genocide and exploitation. We may not have personally committed the abuse, but it is our responsibility to mend the relationship. In doing so, we may also mend our relationship with the natural world.

I would support fully enacting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, and end the expansion of TMX pipeline.

Terry Dowdall, Conservative: The Conservative Party supports the process of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. 

It was a Conservative government that created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2007, which recognized the lasting and damaging impact of the Indian residential school system on Indigenous culture, heritage and language. The recent discovery of bodies is a somber reminder of this tragic part of our history. 

Included in our response plan is a commitment to implement TRC Calls to Action 71 through 76, fund the investigation at all former residential schools in Canada where unmarked graves presently – and may – exist, and ensure that proper resources are allocated to reinter, commemorate, and honour any individuals discovered through the investigation, according to the wishes of their next of kin.

We are disappointed that another promise to First Nations was broken when the government failed to keep its promise to end long-term drinking water advisories. Not only will a Conservative government honour the promise, we will recognize safe drinking water as a fundamental human right. We will also work with Indigenous communities to find new approaches that will help ensure water systems investments are protected and continue providing clean drinking water in the long term.

Lucas Gillies, NDP: I lived in Nunavut as a young boy, and have experienced some of the harsh conditions that our First Nations and Inuit people live in. I also got to experience the excitement and hopes when the new Territory of Nunavut was created, as a result of land claims negotiations. 

The NDP will fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action in good faith, and in true and equal partnership with Indigenous communities across the country. We have to acknowledge our colonial history and create legally binding commitments to fair and equitable redress going forward, not fight against Indigenous residential school survivors in courts or chronically underfund vital services like water and housing. The NDP would fund the search for grave sites at former residential schools, a special prosecutor to hold those accountable for harm done to children and require churches and governments hand over any and all records. The NDP would fund community-driven solutions for healing. 

Adam Minatel, PPC: This is a very simple task to overcome. We have some of the most ingenious drilling contractors that are contracted out globally to help third world nations with water wells and supply, but they are never consulted to see how their services can enrich our reserves. 

Conversely, the Canadian Forces has some amazing engineers who would be happy to assist in the operations (mostly affecting northern reserves) and get this accomplished. Politicians have long used the Indigenous community as their token exchange talking points, and continue to do this as witnessed by pipelines (that had well over 90 per cent support of the communities they would traverse). These facts on Indigenous communities are constantly misled in media who use them as headline fodder, while the communities just wish to operate under sovereign rule, and be left to operate with minimal government interruption, which we intend to do.

Bren Munro, Liberal: I will always work to build a better future for all, and that means working in true partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Metis. I will strive to build relationships with the Wendake-Nionwentsïo, the Mississauga, the Anishinabewaki, the Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga, and the Petun, the traditional caretakers of the land which I hope to represent.

The Liberal government was the first to fully recognize, track, and commit the needed funding to end boil water advisories on reserve. To date, Liberals have lifted 109 long-term drinking water advisories, built 99 water treatment plants and funded 436 upgrades, and prevented 188 short-term drinking water advisories from becoming long-term. There is more work ahead, and we have a plan to end all remaining long-term advisories. We are committed to seeing it through to the end.

Liberals have committed to implementing all TRC calls to action and have recently accelerated progress towards this goal.

The devastating discoveries of thousands of unmarked graves at residential schools serve as a solemn reminder of the ongoing need for truth and reconciliation. We will continue to work with Indigenous communities to make sure that all of these graves are found


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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